There’s a general statement I often hear about kids, usually when there has been an incident of bullying or unkind behavior. That statement is “kids are so mean”. I cringe every time I hear it because:
a) It’s not true
b) Generalizations don’t serve anyone well and usually end up making me feel twitchy.
Unlike the bullying stories you often hear, I recently had an experience with my 14-year-old son that left me completely overwhelmed with how kind and supportive teenage boys can be.
He was out of town with his hockey team participating in a tournament. I worried that it might be a bit awkward socially, since the boys on the team didn’t know each other very well heading into the tournament. I was sure to send Daddy-o and son off with the Xbox and a load of junkie drinks and chips. That way, my kid’s room would be the “cool” place for them to hang out. When you’re raising a child with autism, you are always thinking about setting him up for success socially.
Daddy-o was giving me e-mail updates throughout the second game of the tournament, and what I was reading brought me to my knees. Here’s what happened:
- My kid got his first goal of the season. The bench cleared and his team went crazy congratulating him. In fact, our coach had to let the other coach know that it was his first goal and that they weren’t in fact rubbing it in that they had gotten so far ahead;
- Then my kid scored a second goal. More hysteria ensues. With one minute of play left, our coach was sending out the last lineup of players. One of the boys getting sent onto the ice asked coach if Mack could go out in his place so that he’d have a shot at getting a hat trick. Yes, a teammate gave up his own ice time for my son.
- After the game, his teammates decided he should be the tournament captain. A white “C” made of hockey tape was applied to his jersey, and he was given the game puck.
So you see why I don’t believe that kids are mean. We can’t forget about the coaches either. Any coach who can create an environment of support and peer encouragement for a bunch of testosterony 14-year-old boys has clearly worked some magic.